Yale University classicist and historian Donald Kagan has just retired from a long and distinguished career. He has an essay in the current New Criterion, reflecting on the history of the liberal arts education and its value to students today: Ave atque vale.
Earlier generations who came to college with traditional beliefs rooted in the past had them challenged by hard questioning and the requirement to consider alternatives and were thereby unnerved, and thereby liberated, by the need to make reasoned choices. The students of today and tomorrow deserve the same opportunity. They, too, must be freed from the tyranny that comes from the accident of being born at a particular time in a particular place, but that liberation can only come from a return to the belief that we may have something to learn from the past.